UNITED NEWS INTERNATIONAL — Hundreds of people on Hawaii’s Big Island evacuated their homes as a volcanic eruption spewed lava into a residential neighborhood.
A crack some 500 feet long opened in the eastern community of Leilani Estates and started gushing lava late Thursday afternoon, May 3.
Some 1,700 residents live in the neighborhood which lies within Kilauea Volcano’s east rift zone.
Officials ordered mandatory evacuations of both Leilani Estates and nearby Lanipuna Gardens. Residents were instructed to take shelter at two community centers.
The Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said cracks in Leilani Estates continued to gush lava into Friday morning while authorities reported dangerous levels of sulfur dioxide gas also choking the area.
Hundreds of earthquakes have rattled the eastern side of the Big Island since Monday.
While most measured around 2.0 magnitude, the U.S. Geological Survey said a 5.0-magnitude quake shook the region ahead of Thursday’s eruption.